Home Contact Us
Search :
   

Nuclear - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3460, 22 September 2011
 
Iran’s Climb-down: The Quixotic Backdrop
Abhijit Iyer-Mitra
Research Officer, IPCS
email: mabhijit@hotmail.com
 

Iran’s seemingly conciliatory offer of allowing the UN 'full inspection' of nuclear facilities came out of the blue. Almost immediately opinions from the West dubbed this a 'delaying tactic'; and some other analysts claimed that this was proof that UN sanctions have begun to pinch and panic has set in. The assertion that Iran’s climb-down is a delaying tactic is ludicrous since the question arises-delaying against what? Military action doesn’t seem imminent and international pressure outside of sanctions seems muted. The economic argument similarly is nothing new since the Iranian economy has been in the doldrums for a long time and has learnt to deal/circumvent these. Analyzing some seemingly unrelated quixotic moves coming out of Tehran may on the other hand provide some clues as to what is happening.

What are these quixotic moves? To begin with Iran decided to haul Russia, its main arms supplier and prime defender against harsher sanctions to international arbitration over the non-supply of the previously contracted S-300 missile systems. And if that was not enough on 8 September, President Ahmadinejad decided to openly call for its closest ally-the Assad regime-to end its crackdown on Syria’s opposition. Curiouser and curiouser?

Hauling Russia to arbitration and rhetorically stabbing its closest ally, Syria, in the back both bear the Ahmadinejad stamp of approval. The enormity of this action should not be underestimated. Russia is possibly the only buffer Iran has against both military action and harsher sanctions. Bilaterally for now, all the cards are in Russia’s hands, be it the construction or refuelling of the Bushehr reactor, shielding Iran from harsher sanctions and possibly in the future vetoing any resolution calling for the use of force against Iran. Once Iran’s nuclear weapons begin to come online however, the equation changes, since nuclear deterrence is a far more persuasive tool against military action than any UNSC veto. Similarly Syria is known to be Iran’s foremost ally not just in controlling Hezbollah, making Iran’s 'Shia Arc' dreams come true, but also in engaging in sanctions busting, especially military equipment. Antagonizing both these countries then is an inexcusable self-goal for a country that feels vulnerable and isolated. Knowing full well that Iran’s list of friends is small, and its propensity to bargain or manoeuvre next to non-existent without said allies’ cooperation, the president has still chosen to go ahead with the pointless antagonization of these allies. So what is Ahmadinejad up to?

Ever since Ahmadinejad was cut to size by Khamenei earlier this year, he’s been smarting for some form of revenge against the good Ayatollah. Since he is barred by term limits from contesting the next presidential election, and is well aware of the political irrelevance reserved for past presidents, this may very well be Ahmadinejad’s stab at a scorched earth policy-effectively eroding the value of Iranian diplomatic assets to leave a poisoned chalice behind for his successor-and destroy Khamenei who has carefully insulated himself and the clergy from accountability. Yes the clergy can prevent the president from doing anything constructive, but evidently they cannot prevent him from being destructive. So what is Ahmadinejad’s end game?  

Antagonizing Russia-if Ahmadinejad pursues to its logical conclusion-would kill two birds with one stone. It would remove Iran’s short-term security insurance (Russian military and diplomatic aid) and significantly harm Iran’s long-term insurance (Russian nuclear technology and fuel-so critical to Iran’s bomb effort). Should the bridge to Syria be burnt, decades worth of effort that has gone into making Hezbollah a potent tool of Iranian foreign policy would go down the drain, and also close off Iran’s last supply route for weaponry and essentials. A weakened Assad therefore is a catastrophe for Iran. While the genesis of the rupee-for-oil agreement is hard to determine as an Ahmadinejad initiative, it marks a rather dangerous precedent for Iran’s prime source of revenue. While the rupee is relatively stable, other countries that leverage this agreement in their own deals with Iran may not have stable currencies or strong economies. The net result being that along with destroying Iran’s most important alliances it may well be that Ahmadinejad has also laid the grounds for destroying any hope of future economic stability.

Khamenei is most probably very scared. The 'desperation' and 'panic' Western analysts speak of is true, however it is not Iran’s panic, but rather Khamenei’s panic at seeing his tools of deniability slipping away from him. The question to ask then is should Iran’s offer be taken up or not? Resoundingly yes! Whether it stalls Iran’s nuclearization or not, it will gather ground intelligence for possible use in airstrikes later, but more importantly, it will force Ahmadinejad to accelerate his efforts to bring down the Ayatollahs, and possibly set in place actions that will achieve far more than any jasmine revolution or airstrike could.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary

D Suba Chandran
Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?
Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse
Pakistan: Talks about Talks with the Taliban, Again
Dateline Islamabad

Salma Malik
Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?
The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Dateline Kabul

Mariam Safi
Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?
Dhaka Discourse

Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Domestic Politics and External Actors
Bangladesh Post Elections 2014: Redefining Domestic Politics?

Eagle Eye

Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
US in Asia: A 'Non-Alignment' Strategy?
Indo-US Strategic Partnership Post Khobragade: The Long Shadow
East Asia Compass

Dr Sandip Mishra
North Korean Peace Gestures and Inter-Korea Relations
Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness
China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads

Himalayan Frontier

Pramod Jaiswal
Chinese Inroads to Nepal
Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging
Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide
Maritime Matters

Vijay Sakhuja
Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks
China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays
Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Middle Kingdom

DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street

Amb Sheelkant Sharma
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index
Nuclear Power: An Annual Report Card

Red Affairs

Bibhu Prasad
Maoists in the Northeast: Reality and Myth-Making
Surrender of Gudsa Usendi: Ominous beginning for the Naxals?
South Asian Dialectic

PR Chari
Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator
Limits of Federalism

Spotlight West Asia

Amb Ranjit Gupta
Saudi Arabia-US Estrangement: Implications for the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?
The Arab World: Trying Times Ahead
Strategic Space

Manpreet Sethi
US, China and the South Asian Nuclear Construct
Responding to Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Strategy for India

The Strategist

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Non-Nuclear Weapons: An Essential Consort to a Doctrine of No First Use
 

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Somya Chhabra,
"Iran Elections 2013," 24 June 2013
Roomana Hukil,
"India, China, and Bangladesh: The Contentious Politics of the Brahmaputra River," 9 March 2013
Anu Krishnan,
"North Korea: A Print Media Analysis of the Nuclear Test," 1 March 2013
Shubhra Chaturvedi,
"Iran and Nuclear Weapons: New Negotiations, Old Issues?," 16 February 2013
Manish,
"Iran and Nuclear Weapons: A New Agenda," 16 February 2013
Rajaram Panda,
"North Korea: Third Nuclear Test," 13 February 2013
Debak Das,
"IPCS Discussion: Preventing Nuclear Use," 4 February 2013
Vijay Sakhuja,
"India and the Melting Arctic," 31 January 2013
Dil Bahadur Rahut & Medha Bisht,
"Special Commentary: India and Bhutan," 28 January 2013
Rajaram Panda,
"North Korea: “An All-Out Confrontation” After Fresh UNSC Sanctions?," 28 January 2013

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Obama-II and the Asia Pacific: Macro Strategic Trends in Rebalancing

Indian Nuclear Thought: Doctrinal Confusion

India-Australia Relations: Julia's Nuclear Tango

Iran: Escalation Guaranteed

Joining the US against China?: The Secret Chapter in Australia’s Defence White Paper

Shangri La Dialogue: Indian Perspectives

Seoul Nuclear Security Summit 2012: An Analysis of India’s Position

The Afghan Debate: Is India Both the Problem and the Solution?

Ten Years After: 9/11 and the Collapse of Western Realpolitik

Debate: Is a Nuclear Iran good for India?

PNS Mehran and the Military Consequences for India

Emulate Operation Abbottabad?: No India Can’t

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998
 1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
Email:
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com